Trek to breathtaking views: Exploring Chikmagalur's 8 Best Trails

Trek to breathtaking views: Exploring Chikmagalur's 8 Best Trails

Category DIY Guide

By Amoga Vigram P


Chikmagalur is known for a few of the most famous trekking trails in the country. In fact, trekking overnight in Karnataka is often synonymous with trekking in Chikmagalur. 

The shola forests you come across in Chikamagalur, with tall evergreen trees and undergrowth, are among the best in the western ghats. These forests are also the source of a few of the major rivers in the region.

Not to mention the grasslands. They seem never-ending, leading you to many false summits, one after another. The undulating grasslands can be tiring, but they're never boring. The views of the valley below always keep you in stunning company.  

Additionally, Chikmagalur is one of the major coffee-producing districts in India. On a few of these treks, you get to trek among the coffee and cocoa plantations. 

These treks are also known for their rare flora and fauna. Neela Kurinji, a flower that blooms once every 12 years, blooms on a few of these hills. 

Last time, the flower bloomed in 2018 near Chikmagalur town. The next mass blooming will happen in 2030. It blooms every four years in different hills around the region. Post monsoon is the best time to witness the bloom. You can ask for the help of locals for more information.

Top 8 Treks in Chikmagalur

Getting to the treks, everyone knows about Kudremukh as a great trek to do in Chikamagalur, which I've written about at the end of this article. But I'm going to start with some lesser-known trails in Chikmagalur that will give you a real taste of the region.

Infographics showing the best trails of Chikmagalur.

1. Ettina Bhuja

Highest altitude: 4265ft

Trek Starting Point:  Sri Nanya Bhairaveshwara temple, Byrapura

Distance from Chikmagalur: 55 km

Ettina bujha-Indiahikes-ox shoulder

The peak of ettina Bhuja looks like an ox shoulder. Picture by Manasa

One of my favorite treks in the Western Ghats. The trek has a mixture of everything, starting with trekking through an evergreen rainforest, the thrill of summiting, and then the summit views of the Shishila Valley from the top. 

Another unique feature of the trek is the structure of the peak, which looks like an ox’s shoulder or hump. You spot this just after trekking for five minutes from the temple. This resemblance of the structure got the name Ettina Bhuja Trek.

Trekking inside the forest is the most thrilling part of the trek. With the birds calling in the background and the leaves rustling in the wind, you will notice a sudden change in the surroundings as soon as you enter the forest..

View Ettina Bujha Trek

2. Bandaje Ballalaryana durga trek

Highest altitude: 4921 ft

Trek Starting Point:  Sunkasale 

Distance from Chikmagalur: 63.6 km

ballalarayana durga fort- bandaje-treks in western ghats- Indiahikes

The meadows of Ballalrayana Durga Trek. Picture: IndiaHikes Archives

One of the most beautiful treks out there in the Western Ghats, which has a great combination of everything. It starts at a cliff, goes through an ancient fort, and ends at the snout of a waterfall. 

The grasslands on the trek are so pretty that they almost resemble the Ali and Bedni meadows of the Himalayas.

This trek can be fully enjoyed during the monsoon, when the water level is high and the clouds play hide and seek along the cliff.

View Ballalarayana Durga Trek

3. Netravati Peak trek

Highest altitude: 4900 ft

Trek Starting Point:  Samse

Distance from Chikmagalur: 93 km

Treks in Chikkamangalur-Netravati Peak Trek-Indiahikes

The view from Netravati Peak. Picture by Amoga Vigram P

The Netravati Trek is a paradise in itself. You can see the clouds playing hide and seek with the views of the beautiful rolling hills. These rolling hills are nothing but some of the most prominent peaks of the western ghats. If the clouds are clear, you will see Kudremukh Peak on your right and Rani Jhari on your left. You will also see small towns and villages far down the valley.

The shape and pattern of clouds at Netravati change every minute during the monsoons. It is probably one of the best places in Karnataka to view and enjoy the clouds. 

During the monsoon months, the southwest monsoon winds, along with the clouds, strike directly on the mountains and rise along the slope, creating a magical scenery for the viewer 

View Netravati Peak

4. MullayanaGiri Trek

Highest altitude: 6330ft

Trek Starting Point:  Sarpadhari

Distance from Chikmagalur: 15km

Mullayanagiri Trek - Indiahikes

Shola Grasslands of Mullayanagiri Trek. Picture: Indiahikes Archives.

The highest peak in Karnataka has breathtaking views from the top. It has an ancient Mullayana Swamy temple on top. 

The base of Mullayanagiri is surrounded by coffee plantations, providing a refreshing and rejuvenating atmosphere. You may encounter these plantations during the initial part of the trek.

The view from the top is surreal and stunning. You get to see the entire Chikmagalur valley. The peak is covered with mist for almost half the year and might get cold near the summit.

The trek also offers opportunities to explore nearby attractions like the Bababudangiri shrine and the Manikyadhara Falls. These are additional attractions that trekkers can explore before or after the Mullayanagiri Trek.

View Mullayanagiri Trek

5. Gangadikkal trek

Highest altitude: 4797 ft

Trek Starting Point:  Kudremukh town

Distance from Chikmagalur: 107 km

Gangadikal Peak- Treks in Western Ghats- Indiahikes

The view from Gangadikal Peak. Picture by Amoga Vigram P

Gangadikal Peak sits high up at 4806 feet, and the view from the top is amazing. 

Picture this: you look out and see these beautiful valleys covered in endless green shola forests on both sides. From the peak, you can see the expanse of Kudremuka forests on both sides. The never-ending shola grasslands, as far as the eyes can see, are a sight to behold.

Right below you, you get to see the crystal-clear backwaters of the Lakhya Dam, also known as the Kudremukh Dam. The backwaters resting on the Shola grassland feel unworldly and magical.

On clear days, you can also see the abandoned mining town of Kudremukh next to the Lakhya dam

 The trek is a thriving habitat for diverse flora and fauna. Lucky trekkers may have the chance to glimpse a herd of gaurs or deer, while various bird species such as the Grey Hornbill, Malabar Trogon, and Orange Headed Thrush, and various snake species such as shieldtails and Malabar Pit vipers can be found here.

View Gangadikal Peak

6. Kurinjal peak trek

Highest altitude: 5751 ft

Trek Starting Point:  Bhagavathi Nature Camp

Distance from Chikmagalur: 114km

Kurinjal Peak Trek- treks in Western Ghats- treks in chikkamangaluru

Kurinjal Peak. Picture by Bhajish

Trekking to Kurinjal Peak takes you through the dense forest of Kudremukh National Park. These forests remain evergreen throughout the year.

The Kurinjal Peak Trek offers a majestic view of the entire Kudremukh region. In fact, you can see the Kudremukh peak from this trek. 

Once you come out of the dense forest, you see a huge clearing where a magnificent view of the rolling green hills unfolds in front of you.

The final stretch of the trek is very steep. You have to climb a huge rock that has 80 degrees of inclination. 

You trek under an open sky, which is famous for its high winds. Trekking in this section with chilling winds is something you will never experience anywhere else.

View Kurinjal peak

7. Narasimha Parvatha

Highest altitude: 3772 ft

Trek Starting Point:  Kigga

Distance from Chikmagalur: 95.8km

Narasimha Parvatha-shola grasslands-treks in Western Ghats- indiahikes

The Shola Grasslands of Narasimha Parvatha. Picture: Indiahikes Archives

On this trek, you would stand on the top of the 10th highest waterfall in South India, the Barkana Falls. Standing at the snout, you get an aerial view of the Agumbe Reserve Forest. Amidst all the greenery, a small waterfall at a distance overlooking the Barkana Falls elevates the beauty of the whole place.

Just 3 kilometers into the trek, you would get to see lush green hills covered with clouds.

The forests on this trek have some of the thickest foliage in the region, which provides a magical experience for you. These forests are also known for the longest venomous snake in the world, the king cobra.

View Narasimha Parvatha

8. Kudremukh Peak Trek

Highest altitude: 6207ft

Trek Starting Point:  Mullodi

Distance from Chikmagalur: 100km

Ontimara or the lonely tree enroute Kudremukha peak. Picture by Suhas R

Nestled in the heart of the western ghats in Chikmagalur district, Kudremukh is a perfect monsoon trek. It comes under Kudremukh National Park, which is the second-largest wildlife-protected area in the western ghats. Situated at an altitude of 6,207 ft, Kudremukh is the 2nd highest peak in Karnataka after Mullayyangiri.

Monsoons make this trek extremely adventurous.  The water levels are high, you get a lot of leech bites, and the trail becomes slippery. The view from the peak is stunning, with shola grasslands as far as the eye can see, making the climb worth it.

Post-monsoons, the area comes to life with clear blue skies and greenery. This is the best time for you to explore the trek. 

Kudremukh is one of the few treks in Karnataka that is home to the endangered lion-tailed macaque. If you are lucky, you can spot it.

View Kudremukh peak

Amoga Vigram P

Trek Documenter

About the author

Amoga Vigram is a Trek Documenter at IndiaHikes.

Amoga is an engineer by qualification. He trekked to Beas Kund and Kuari Pass with IndiaHikes. It impacted his mind, body, and spirit. So much so that he joined IndiaHikes as a trek documenter. His love for trekking encouraged him to complete the Basic Mountaineering Course from NIMAS in Arunachal Pradesh.

Amoga has also extensively trekked in the western ghats of Karnataka. Kumaraparvatha is his favourite trek. Along with this, he has also explored treks in the Western Ghats. He firmly believes in the vision that 'everyone must trek' and aspires to add new trekking trails to the map.

Outside of work, Amoga enjoys playing chess and working out.